Cape Town - He’s been awarded Springbok colours 39 times in three different sports and he’s won 26 South African national titles in four different sports.
In 1981 in London, he won the World Water Skiing Championship and he has twice received the State President’s Sports Award.
After such an illustrious career, in 2008, he was inducted into the South African Sport Hall of Fame.
Anyone would be justifiably proud to have such a CV. For Peter Lindenberg, it is also a motivation to keep going.
“There is no prize for coming second,” is a phrase you will frequently hear when in the company of this competitive giant. Even though he stands at about 1.75m, he displays the drive and leadership of one who pursues the success he’s looking for – and usually achieves it.
The South African and world barefoot skiing champ and Formula 1 powerboat ace may have been off the water since 2002 when a nasty accident forced his retirement, but he has been racing cars for more than 30 years and there’s no sign of this ending soon. He also manages the Lazarus Ford racing team of eight historic racing cars, the largest team in the country.
Lindenberg’s first love has been motor racing, but his father was involved in boating so the natural progression demanded a start on water.
At the age of 58, Lindenberg drives to work from Langebaan to Malmesbury where he runs a business building, maintaining, preparing and repairing racing cars for clients. He loves Malmesbury.
“This is a great town in which to have a business. I get everything here that I might need for the business. The steel merchant is across the road. The panel shop is just a block away. The tool supplier is 10 minutes away, the tyre shop, too. The only things I have to get from Cape Town are the shock absorbers, because they are specially made.
“And the service is good, too. I find the people friendly and helpful. If your supplier hasn’t got something you need right away, he will have it for you in 24 hours, no worries… I have a great relationship with my landlord. It is great doing business under such circumstances.”
Lindenberg was never a member of a factory racing team, despite his many successes on the track. “Too much politics. I had two nasty experiences with factory politics, in powerboat racing and car racing, and I decided there and then I wanted no part in it.”
The powerboat experience was during his chase for the world championship, when his factory team boss forced him into older technology in favour of the team’s three top pilots.
He is candid about the motor racing experience. It was back in 1987 when his life-long friend Tony Viana invited him to race a new BMW that season. Viana was a member of the BMW factory team and saw Lindenberg performing well while racing a Mazda Capella as a privateer.
During his first race, at the old Kyalami in Joburg, Lindenberg was racing a close second to Viana when another member of the BMW team started bumping his car to try to get him off the track. Lindenberg was pushed aside, but he kept control and finished fourth.
After the race, the BMW team manager came to him, apologised and said they would fix the car.
“When I got the car back, it was just as bent as after the race, but then it was without an engine, too. Apparently the team manager at the time said my car’s engine was too powerful, so he had it removed. A replacement standard engine was sent back in a box with the car.”
Lindenberg has always been a Ford man. “My father loved his Fords and that is what I grew up with. You can see, the historic race cars we run are all Fords.
“I am also proud of the fact that soon we may begin to produce FIA-approved (Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile) Ford GT replicas for customers in Europe. Classics are worth it.”
When you invest in an historic racing car, you will get your money back when you sell it again down the line. When you invest in a modern racing car, by the end of the season it has fallen behind and it is worth nothing, he says.
“It is the right time to get into historics. It is popular, it is more affordable and it retains value.”
Lindenberg and his team also built an oval dirt-track racer designed in-house at Lindenberg Racing for clients.
But the man has one warning.
“I do not want visitors to our workshop unless it is somebody I know well. You can see I am keeping a low profile with no signs or anything. The problem is that people come and steal with their eyes. I have to guard our ideas against that, it is a very competitive business.”
Lindenberg has three daughters. The eldest, Chiara, helps manage the business, and the second oldest, Paige, races a Cortina in historic racing. The third, Abby, and Lindenberg’s wife, Debbie, are happy to support the racing team’s efforts.